Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Officials: Ukraine Military Fired Short Range Ballistic Missiles At Rebels; Israel Unleashes Biggest Bombardment Yet; Liberia Closes Borders To Stop Ebola; CNN's "The Hunt" Tip Leads To Shootout Death Of Suspected Child Molester

Aired July 29, 2014 - 10:00   ET


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Officials confirmed to me a short time ago that U.S. intelligence over the last 48 hours has monitored the firing of several short range ballistic missiles from territory controlled by Ukrainian government forces into areas controlled by the pro-Russian separatists. Now this would be a significant escalation. Short range ballistic missiles.

These are missiles that go perhaps 50 miles, but have warheads of up to 1000 pounds. We are talking maximum lethality. We are talking about a weapon that can kill dozens of people at a time potentially when it hits. We do not have the exact launch point. We don't have the exact impact point.

In fact, the U.S. is holding this information right now fairly tightly officials say because they are on awkward position. These are the so- called good guys firing these ballistic missiles, Ukraine government forces. No reaction from Kiev yet. No reaction from Moscow.

The U.S. isn't -- it's not even entirely clear right now that the U.S. is going to ask Kiev to not fire these weapons again because they are saying that the Ukrainian government has a right to defend itself. But make no mistake this is a military escalation on this battlefield at a time when everybody outside of Ukraine and Russia at least wants to see it ratchet back.

They want to get those observers and inspectors to the crash site of MH-17. It looks now like the fighting is only escalating with now today this additional information that short range ballistic missiles, thousand-pound warheads have been fired -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so General Marks, just a short time ago, I spoke to the lead investigator. He said he talked to the Ukrainian government, they assured him it would be safe to get to that crash site and now we hear this.

MAJ. GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST (via telephone): Quite amazing, but I think frankly, Carol, we shouldn't be too surprised. Certainly the Ukrainian forces, as Barbara rightly pointed out, have a right to defend themselves. The use of these long range surface-to-surface missiles primarily are used for offensive capabilities.

You want to prepare a piece of ground. You want to reduce an enemy's capabilities before you do something about them. Where they were shooting from and what their targets were, the United States intelligence community certainly knows. They know the answers to these questions.

And I'm certain that these rockets were completely out of harm's way from where the crash site is located and how they are trying to work through that situation, but it certainly complicates it, but again, Kiev has the authority and has the right.

The problem, Carol, also is that these are not necessarily very precise weapon systems, so I would hope that they would be using these against targets where Russian separatists -- where the Ukrainian government felt like they had a right to engage, to try to reduce some enemy force as opposed to the collateral damage concerns that we would all have for citizens in that part of Ukraine.

COSTELLO: OK. Nick Paton Walsh, we have him now. He is in Donetsk in Ukraine. So Nick, are you hearing anything about this on the ground from where you are?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. It's not something people openly discuss, obviously an escalation with that kind of weaponry. It's no secret that both sides have been using very heavy weaponry against each other. The so-called commander of the Donetsk People's Republic gave a press conference yesterday in which he said that recently the Ukrainian Army had been using by his estimation a lot of heavy weaponry.

He's used a lot himself when he can lay his hands on it. We also ourselves heard from this balcony quite late the occasional artillery strike, but also three unexplained longer sounding rumbling explosions. No idea what they were, but it forms part of a broader pattern of increased heavy weaponry being used, increase of wideness of that use and the real sense I think that a war has started into turning areas being devastated.

We left a town, Carol, recently which is on the road between Donetsk and the crash site through which the inspectors have to pass to be able to get that crash site. Heavy shelling hit it while we were there. We left along with many other people in somewhat of a hurry. It's pretty nasty here.

COSTELLO: We keep conflicting reports, Nick. Sometimes we hear that, you know, the fighting has died down and the two sides are going to let these crash site investigators safely to get where they are going. And I know we don't know where these missiles are headed or what their targets are. But it does give you pause. So which is it? Is the fighting intensifying or is it not?

WALSH: Well, the fight is intensifying, no question about that. The Ukrainian military is pushing as hard as it can to retake the areas around this main city of Donetsk. In fact, some shelling hit Donetsk. We don't know who fired it. Although separatists claim it was the Ukrainian government.

And also, yes, it was so hard to predict when a road feels safe, and an hour later, it can be deadly. It's the nature of conflict where people are allowed to pass. We saw ourselves a town quiet for a little while and then suddenly absolutely a place you do not want to be -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And Barbara, you mentioned a bit about the United States and whether it would say anything about this. Tell us more about that.

STARR: Well, you know, the U.S. has been fairly quick to release satellite imagery, of course, that we've all seen over the last several days of what it believes to be Russian military artillery and other weapons firing from the Russian side of the border into Ukraine showing the damage that it believes those weapons are causing.

So I ask the question, will we see the satellite imagery of the Ukrainians firing against the separatists. That may be a very tricky political question for the U.S. intelligence community today because if they have the imagery, then they are sort of in the position of showing the damage that the Ukraine government, which the U.S. supports, is causing.

So we'll have to see how this all sorts out. You know, will we only see that satellite imagery from one side in this conflict and not from the other side, and still, you know, we will be -- here at CNN we will be reaching out to both the government in Kiev and the government in Moscow to see what they can tell us about all of this.

Right now what we have are U.S. officials saying they monitored these missile firings and they say they have the intelligence to prove it. We just haven't seen it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Barbara Starr, Nick Paton Walsh, General Spider Marks, thanks to all of you. I appreciate it. And also thanks to our international viewers. We can return you now to CNN International.

Just minutes ago, we learned that Hamas has rejected a call for a 24- hour cease-fire. The truce was proposed by Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. That truce offer comes after Israel's biggest bombardment yet. More than 70 sites hit including a radio station run by Hamas.

This strike just minutes ago, our crew on the ground says it is the biggest smoke plume they have seen and it follows another spectacular hit on a fuel tank at Gaza's only power plant. That power plant now reportedly out of service for at least a year, threatening to cut power to the almost 2 million Gaza residents, who are only getting electricity a few hours a day already.

This follows an all-out assault witnessed on live television. Flares casting an eerie glow over Gaza City. So unmanned drones can better see and strike their targets. The death toll now surging past 1,100 that's according to Gaza officials. The fighting escalating as witnessed by Karl Penhaul in Gaza.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Each time that happens, the precautions, we do have to hit the ground, hit the ground very quickly. We've already taken the windows out of this side of the building.


COSTELLO: All right, let's head out to Jerusalem and CNN's Martin Savidge to see what's happening on the ground from there. Good morning, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Yes. The talk of that cease-fire clearly has gone nowhere and this conflict just yesterday, we would be reporting to you about this time how it seemed that it may have been de-escalating that the level of violence yesterday seemed to be lower until right about now and that's when everything started to once again ratchet up and it continues to do so.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Explosions rocking Gaza City throughout the night. Accompanied by the sound of Israeli drones overhead searching for more Hamas targets. This morning smoke villas from a building housing a Hamas-run radio station that took a direct hit. The renewed violence began earlier with two deadly blasts on Monday.

The first killing ten people, mostly children, playing on this busy street. The second at Al Shippa Hospital leaving two people injured. Neither side accepting responsibility for the bloodshed. A Hamas-run news outlet blaming the devastation on an Israeli drone. While Israel's military blames Hamas rockets fired towards Israel that fell short.

BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: The Israelis and Palestinians have a responsibility to stop the fighting now.

SAVIDGE: World leaders continue to push for a humanitarian cease- fire, which would allow for critical aid into Gaza. Speaking on television, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israelis to be prepared for a lengthy campaign.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Hopefully, if we can make some progress, the people in this region who deserve peace can take one step towards that elusive goal.

SAVIDGE: Secretary of State John Kerry, who admitted Monday there were misunderstandings during talks now under fire for his failure to achieve a week long truce to stop the rising death toll.


SAVIDGE: And if there is anything that makes you doubt that there is an opportunity for a cease-fire, just look at the live images now of Gaza, the dark cloud rising, and that is the oil we believe the fuel burning from the power plant that was struck earlier in the day. The loss of that power plant is going to make life that much more miserable. It really takes it as one person said from a crises to potentially a disaster because the loss of that power means the loss of just about everything for the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, here in Israel, it should be pointed out ten soldiers were killed yesterday in that fighting as well, it was also one of Israel's deadliest days -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Martin Savidge reporting live for us this morning. Now let's move closer to the Israeli-Gaza border. CNN's Sara Sidner is on the Israeli side. She joins us with a closer look from there. Good morning.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Yes, we're standing here. This is the Israeli-Gaza border. I can tell you that we are standing right near the iron dome and you've heard about this system time and again here in Israel. The anti-missile dome and it defends this country from the missiles that have been coming over. The rockets that have been coming over at least 30 rockets have come over since midnight.

And we are just behind us, what you can't see is there are homes all around here that this particular dome is going to try and save. We know that of those 30 rockets that came over since midnight, at least 26 of them did end up falling and the anti-missile system did take out four of them.

Usually taking out the ones that are going to or have the potential to land in highly populated areas. To give you some idea, Gaza is over to my left and we have been seeing huge plumes of smoke coming from there since we have been standing here. I mean, we are seeing a vast amount of smoke and that can only be coming from one thing going on this long and it appears it's coming from that power plant that was hit.

I don't know if you can quite see it. It is dark what looks like a cloud at this vantage point. The power plant was hit and was struck from official there in Gaza that there was a fuel tank that was struck. That exploded, taking out basically a day's worth of fuel, but then the fire from that started taking out other parts of the fuel tanks that exist there.

So a lot of the fuel, about 40 percent, they think, has actually been taken out because of the fire created from the initial strike there in Gaza. There is heart break on both sides of the border. As you mentioned, in Gaza, 1,100 people have been killed according to health officials in Gaza there.

Here in Israel, we are talking about 53 soldiers who have been killed, ten soldiers killed yesterday alone and three civilians. People are sick and tired of having the rockets come over here into Israel and of course, in Gaza sick and tired of the air strikes and the artillery coming into their homes, into their businesses.

Both sides exhausted by this. Also terrified by the munitions coming over and of course, civilians are in danger on both sides of this conflict -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Sarah Sidner reporting live near the Israeli- Gaza border. Thanks so much.

Just ahead at the bottom of the hour, American diplomacy in the Middle East, is the United States helping or hurting peace efforts there.

Still to come, it's being called the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Now health officials are raising against the clock to try and contain this deadly virus. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta is here with more.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We have two Americans over there who are sick and fighting for their lives. What's exactly going to happen to them and what does it mean for traveler all over the world. Coming up next.


COSTELLO: Right now, health officials are trying to contain the deadliest outbreak of Ebola ever. In hard hit West Africa nearly 700 people have already been killed by the virus. The World Health Organization has sent two teams to Nigeria and Togo amid growing concerns the virus could spread outside the borders.

This as two American health workers desperately fight for their lives. Aid worker, Nancy Rifle and Dr. Kent Brantley both contracted the virus while working in Liberia with a Christian humanitarian group. Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He has more on this. I sure wish they could come home somehow.

GUPTA: It's so heart breaking, Carol, and there's some real pragmatic challenges with simply trying to evacuate people. How do you make the aircraft safe so people don't get sick? Are they stable enough to fly? Where will they go exactly? It is heart breaking. Dr. Brantley talked to one of his mentors. Take a listen to that.


DR. DAVID MCCRAY, COLLEAGUE OF U.S. DOCTOR INFECTED WITH EBOLA: David, I think what I would like to say is thank you for all of prayers and messages of encouragement. I'm praying fervently that God would help me survive this disease. Please continue to pray along with me and pray for my friend, Nancy, who is also very sick and for the doctors who are taking care of us. Thank you all so much. Peace, Kent.


GUPTA: We know that he is still quite sick. We've got some notification he deteriorated over the last couple of days. They are in a tough spot and this gives a little bit of an example of how difficult it is to get any treatment at all to people who need it and to move them.

COSTELLO: Do we know how they contracted the virus? Because they take so many precautions.

GUPTA: I know, Carol. I would tell you I saw some of these precautions firsthand. I mean, the goal is you have to cover every part of your skin. Even a small amount of fluid that gets in through your skin, get on your skin, could pass through it. We all have breaks in our skin whether we realize it or not.

That's why this is so infectious. Just a small amount can cause an infection. There are still errors that can be made. Someone who may have been sick and didn't tell people and was spreading the virus that way, it's tough to say. No one knows for sure with them.

It's not a perfect science in terms of trying to prevent the spread. And it's tough. You saw that was in Guinea, where you see some of that video with me. It's tough you are in the middle of this open field, it's tough to get a lot of other resources there.

COSTELLO: I know the World Health Organization is sending these two teams to Nigeria and Togo to make sure the disease doesn't spread. What will those teams do?

GUPTA: I think a lot of is bolstering up the existing resources. There's not much more than can be done. I think it's more of a question of doing it more completely and better. So you know, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for this per se. So people get fluids and they are treated in hospitals to try and maintain their health as opposed to getting rid of the virus and hope that they recover.

But I think that they are going to really try and curb the spread. There's a lot of stigma associated with this and as a result sick people can spread this to family members because they don't go to the doctor and get any treatment they can and they want to try and prevent that further spread.

COSTELLO: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Still to come to the NEWSROOM, he had not been spotted until he was profiled on an episode of "THE HUNT WITH JOHN WALSH." A child predator is dead. Deborah Feyerick has the story for you. Hi, Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Carol. That's right. Now the NYPD are investigating. They are searching his apartment to find out why he decided he had no choice but to shoot his way out -- Carol.


COSTELLO: This morning, the secretary of state, John Kerry, has been meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister, they are both expected to speak any minute -- any minute now. You can see the podiums have been set up. When they begin speaking we'll take you there live as it happens.

In other news this morning, a shootout at a New York City smoke shop ends the two-year search for a suspected child molester. And investigators say a tip called in during CNN "THE HUNT WITH JOHN WALSH" helped them crack the case. CNN national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick joins us now with more. Good morning, Deborah.

FEYERICK: Good morning there, Carol. That tip came from a woman in Florida, somebody close to the suspect. She was able to provide a key piece of information, the suspect's cell phone.


FEYERICK (voice-over): The search for suspected child molester and fugitive, Charles Mozdir ends here. The shootout at a Manhattan west village smoke shop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mozdir fired upon the officers at very close range and the officers returned fire.

FEYERICK: Members of the U.S. Marshal's New York-New Jersey regional task force tracked Mozdir to New York following a tip that came into CNN'S "THE HUNT WITH JOHN WALSH."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son sat me down and he said mom I have something to tell you. And he proceeded to tell me that Charlie had touched him inappropriately.

FEYERICK: Mozdir had recently been profiled on the show.

(on camera): One of the officers identified Mozdir. He was alone police say inside that smoke shop. When members of the task force entered, that's when the shooting began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the exchange of gunfire, the detectives and two marshals were wounded. Charles Mozdir was shot dead.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Police say Mozdir had grown a beard and had no intention of being taken quietly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 32-caliber handgun was recovered at the scene, 20 rounds of additional ammunition were found in Mozdir' pockets.

FEYERICK: Alexis Green lives down the blocks from the smoke shop and took these photos immediately after the shooting.

ALEXIS GREEN, RESIDENT: What I noticed was a large crowd and police officers with helmets on, detectives, ambulance workers.

FEYERICK: One U.S. Marshal shot in the leg and another one injured in the arm. The NYPD detective assigned to the task force shot in the abdomen. None of the injuries are believed to be life threatening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we can see where the round entered, it was recovered in the vest.

FEYERICK: Mozdir was last seen two years ago in San Diego after being accused of molesting a friend's 7-year-old son. At the time, police searched his home and found a cell phone with images of child porn and bestiality. His abandoned car was found soon after in Georgia, the license plate removed and Mozdir seemingly disappeared.


FEYERICK: Now what police know is that he did have ten bullet wounds. It's not clear and this will be determined by the medical examiner whether those were both, entry and exit wounds, or how many times he was shot. He was living in an pardon me near that smoke shop and police were able to obtain a search warrant. They investigated.

They did find a West Virginia driver's license, but it's not clear whether it his picture on it or who it belonged to. We do know that he was on the run. He had been in Florida. He had stopped in Georgia. So clearly he was in New York trying, it seems, to disappear -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And the officers injured in this shoot out, they are all going to be OK?

FEYERICK: They are. The injuries were not life-threatening. We are told of the three, one was -- was evaluated and he has been released this morning -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Good news. Thank you, Deborah Feyerick reporting live.

You can catch an all-new episode of "THE HUNT" with John Walsh this Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.